Our first year of camp, I remember calling this caregiver who had just had three kids dropped off to her by their mother. She was overwhelmed and so hopeful that mom would get the help she needed and return for them. The kids came to our inaugural year of camp as 6,9, and 10 year olds afraid for what their future might hold. The youngest and oldest had an amazing week but the middle sister struggled, testing most of our strategies from training. We cherished every smile she gave us as it was truly a gift and a symbol that God was softening her heart. I still remember loading the bus to leave. She placed herself in the back of the line to board and as I announced her to walk the purple carpet to get back on the bus, she ran....like the wind. We quickly responded and it was finally grandpa, in his seventies that caught up with her in the golf cart. We could see them through the woods but gave them their space. She finally broke and with lots of tears and his Grandpa hat now on her head they returned to the bus. She boarded the bus with tears but smiling through them as the whole camp clapped for her.
Fast forward to year two, the kids were still in the waiting for their mother to return. They came back to camp greeted by 98% of the same staff ( miracle 1), but as the director my heart broke for the middle sister whose counselor was unable to return, because she had loved her through her hard moments with such grace and patience. We prayed big time over this vacancy. God provided just the right person last summer and we saw tremendous growth. The oldest son wept at the GRAD ceremony, wrapping himself in the handmade quilt that his Royal Family had signed as we affirmed all we saw God doing in him and calling him to be. The baby girl previously so shy and withdrawn brought us all to tears when she danced in the talent show. We check in with our families monthly and send Royal Mail reminding them of lessons and memories from camp.
This past month God prompted us to check on this crew. The caregiver called me back to report that the children had just been notified that their biological mother had passed away unexpectedly. Their waiting ended but not in the way we had prayed it would. The family attempted to raise money to bury their mother but was unsuccessful and when the caregiver called to inform me that the funeral home let her know that they would have to proceed with cremation, I knew God was calling us to be the family we claim to be at camp.